When picking a jury, the best way to determine if you should use a peremptory challenge or to challenge one for cause is to have a series of questions. While there are numerous options for these, we have provided content on this subject which has helped us find success in the world of criminal defense. Let’s provide said list:
1. Read the statement of the case: This gives a little background and pushes your opening statement a bit with a preview.
2. Have you read or heard anything about this case? This includes social media, friends, family etc.
3. Given what you have heard about the evidence, is there anything about this case that would cause you to believe that you could not consider the evidence fairly and impartially according to the law?
4. Introduce the attorneys, the lawyers and the witnesses, see if the jury has any connection to anyone. (You cannot gauge complete honesty in this situation).
5. Do you believe what you read on social media?
6. Do you use social media and if so what for?
7. Have you or anyone in your family ever been prosecuted by this police department?
8. Have you or anyone in your family ever been prosecuted by this prosecutor’s office?
9. Do you feel that the police were fair?
10. Do you feel that the prosecutor’s office was fair?
11. Have you or a loved one ever been the victim of a crime similar to that for which the defendant is accused?
12. In a criminal case, the defendant does not have to take the stand, if he/she does not take the stand would you hold that against them when rendering your decision?
13. Do you have work or family obligations that could affect you that could lead to rendering an impartial verdict?
14. Do you believe that someone that works in law enforcement can be corrupt?
15. Do you believe that someone that is religious could be corrupt?
16. Do you believe that a woman could physically hurt a man?
17. Do you feel that a woman could physically and/or mentally hurt a man if he was physically impaired?
18. If I told you that the defendant has past criminal activity would affect the way that you view this case?
19. Do you or your family members have any law enforcement training?
20. Will this training affect the way that you view this case?
21. The judge will instruct you on the what the law is at the conclusion of the case. When she does that, you have to take an oath to follow the law, do you think that you could have trouble following her rules?
22. Do you understand that the prosecutor has the burden of proof and technically we do not have to do anything? If we wanted to, we could read the newspaper. While we would never do that, do you understand the the prosecutor has the burden of proof?
23. Do you understand what it means to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and how serious that burden is?
24. This trial should last 3 days; do you anticipate this creating an unmanageable burden for you? (Days will vary).
25. Do you have a physical disability that could affect your ability to serve as a juror?
26. Do you have a favorite television show? Why do you like that show?
27. Do you have a favorite sports team?
When we view these questions, there is a lot that goes into the thought process. While not part of this article, perhaps the most critical question is that of the sports team and the television show as this will lead to certain insight that the attorney will need to understand the dynamic of the jury pool.
William Amadeo is a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates and a partner at Ann Arbor Legal PLLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Amadeo is licensed in Michigan, New Jersey and the Federal Court System. In addition to his legal duties, Amadeo volunteers at the “Animal Legal Defense Fund” and is a staff writer for “The Chronicle News” in Lansing, Michigan. Amadeo can be reached at: Amadeo@Annarboresq.com or Williamamadeo@Grabellaw.com.